Monkeyshines

Archive for October, 2010

Happy Halloween!

Pumpkin Cat

Sometimes my hoomins pretend that they don’t have time to stroke me, because they’re busy doing important hoomin things. I do not believe this to be the case.

Present Tense Book Review – The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

I quite enjoyed writing my last present tense book review, and I think it made me consider the book with a more critical eye. So I’m doing it again with Huck Finn, by Mark Twain. I can very vaguely remember it being on TV, but all I can recall is Huck trying to get out of whitewashing a picket fence – not very exciting.

I’ve read the first nine chapters, and it’s going along nicely, although the adventures so far have been entertaining rather than hugely exciting. But now Huck and Jim have just been thrown together, it feels like the novel is hitting its stride. I think perhaps it has taken me a while to get into the correct frame of ear to get caught up in the story – Huck narrates in Southern dialect, and the other characters speak in variants of it. This gives a real immediacy to the story; Huck narrates in the past tense, but there’s a fair bit of present tense dialogue, which you can’t appreciate until you adjust to the language. It’s not much of stretch once you get going, though.

So, a decent start, then, with some wryly amusing characters – I think the more I read, the more I’m going to enjoy it.

A Cat’s Tale – Part One

Every now and then I get shut in a box (which I must add to my list of things that Binky does not like), then get wobbled around for a while, then when I get out my house has changed layout completely, and often smells different. I do not really understand why the hoomins I live with need to keep confusing me like this. Sometimes the hoomins change shape and smell too. The scariest thing, though, was when my first house completely vanished.

I was only little, and I went for a wander around the wilderness near my house; my feline sense of direction is excellent, of course. After a pleasant stroll, I was startled to find that the house (and hoomins who I first lived with) had disappeared. This troubled me greatly, and I did some good meowing, which attracted the attention of a particular type of hoomin, who I believe are called ‘crazy cat ladies’. They were nice to me, but were not very discriminating in their taste in cats, i.e. they did not devote themselves solely to my care, and I had to live with a bunch of other rotten cats. I do not like other cats.

To be continued…

Chillin’

There’s only one good way to spend a saturday.

Sleepy cat

Mexican Pizza

A sort of a quesadilla variant that I have just made for myself.

Serves two.

  • Ingredients (Core)
  • 4 tortillas
  • 1 can refried beans
  • ½ can chopped tomatoes
  • 1 little gem lettuce
  • Some grated cheese
  • Ingredients (Recommended)
  • A handful of baby tomatoes, halved
  • A sprinkling of ground coriander
  • A sprinkling of ground cumin
  • A bit of diced onion
  • A bit of diced red pepper
  • Ingredients (Optional)
  • A bit of diced garlic
  • A bit of diced chilli pepper
  • A couple of blobs of sour cream

Heat up the refried beans and chopped tomatoes, with the baby tomatoes, coriander, and cumin, if you fancy.

Sprinkle the grated cheese across two of the tortillas. Add the onion and red pepper for a nice bit of texture and taste; for a bit of a kick throw on some garlic and/or chilli. Use as much cheese and veg as you like – I have it so that the tortilla is just barely covered, and not right to the edges, as that makes cooking it harder. Cover each loaded tortilla with another one, then add (in turn) to a heated frying pan (no oil). Flip after a few minutes.

Scatter the lettuce leaves on a couple of plates, then place the quesadillas (i.e. the tortilla sandwiches) on top of the lettuce. Pour the refried bean mixture over the top, and add a bit of sour cream if that’s your bag.

Present Tense Book Review – Bulldog Drummond: Part 4

(Part Three of this Present Tense Book Review.)

I’ve now finished the book, and I’d recommend it to anyone who likes a well-written, undemanding thriller. Some aspects of the book seem a little sadistic for my bleeding-heart, liberal tastes, and some of the attitudes of the lead character (and, presumably, author) are xenophobic and right-wing. But it was written 90 years ago, and although I’d not be comfortable with such views in a modern novel, I think one of the pleasures of reading older novels is that you get an insight into some of the attitudes at that time. And if aspects of it now seem objectionable, that’s not necessarily a bad thing – sometimes it’s good to be challenged by a book which you (in part, perhaps) disagree with.

The edition I read has some ‘Case Notes’ at the back, which give a bit of history about the book (and author), and explain its context. I’ve not read them yet, as I wanted to make sure the comments here reflected my own thoughts. But the other books in this Crime Classics series have had very good notes.

What I Like, and What I Do Not Like

If we are to be friends, you will need to know the things that I like, and perhaps more importantly, what I do not like.

  • Likes
  • Hoomin laps
  • Licking glossy magazine covers
  • Sleeping
  • Food from hoomin bowls
  • Dislikes
  • Other cats
  • Big rotten dogs
  • Hoomins doing the washing-up rather than stroking me

Present Tense Book Review – Bulldog Drummond: Part 3

(Part Two of this Present Tense Book Review.)

Many adventure novels sag a bit in the middle, but Sapper has kept up the pace up with a kidnap subplot and the introduction of a set of Drummond’s old army pals, who make the plot slightly more credible (i.e. it’s not just one man against an international crime syndicate), and add a bit of light relief with their banter. All the while, you are drip-fed hints as to the nature of the villains’ grand scheme, building up (hopefully) to a climactic finale.

Internet Research

I am rather troubled to note the presence of so many cats on the world wide web. I do not like other cats. Even supposedly charming ones.

I have learnt, however, that the two-legged animals that I live with are called ‘hoomins‘. I knew they were not just funny-looking cats, because I like them (and I do not like cats), but I did not know the right word.

It would seem that the hoomin that built the machine that translates my pawstrokes into hoomin words is more skilled than other hoomins, as the other cats on the web have appalling grammar and spelling. I hope to document my feline thoughts here with somewhat more erudition.

Countdown Timer – JavaScript

Countdown to :

The JavaScript demonstrated here (countdown.js) can countdown to a particular date. If the date is annually recurring (e.g. a birthday), then it’ll countdown to the next occurence; if it’s a specific year (e.g. a holiday, in the vacation sense of the word), when the date has passed it’ll show the time elapsed since that date. It counts down to a fraction of a second after midnight on the given day (JavaScript gets it’s time information from the client’s clock).

This isn’t particularly novel, and much of the code is copied, merged, and adapted from other similar scripts on the web (none of which did exactly what I wanted). I haven’t seen another script that takes a date and automatically works out whether it’s annually recurring, and if not, whether to count down or up, but I daresay it’s been done many times over. The script is heavily dependent on giving it a date in the right format, “Month Day_of_Month[, Year]”, where Month should be specified as text to avoid any confusion about the order of date components. Not an issue with a list box, but if you let users enter data in text boxes you’ll have to do a bunch of checking and formatting, which is altogether too tedious for me to have bothered with.

I don’t think the script needs much commentary – it works out when the day is in relation to today and does some simple maths to display that information in a human-readable format. JavaScript works in milliseconds, which is why we divide by 1000 in various places. The script is actually pretty wordy because I find JavaScript counter-intuitive, and tend towards clarity rather than brevity; but if you prefer the latter it’d be easy to condense it.

It’s easy to add a little pizazz to the countdown by displaying a picture relevant to the date selected, just change the src of the image when the user selects from the list box.